Making A Targeting Mistake

I have a confession to make.

I broke a rule of Copywriting for Direct Marketing.

In fact I didn’t even realise I broke a rule until I got my copy back from my very first client!

But before all else I need to tell you about myself. I’m a junior copywriter meaning I’m just a beginner in this awesome world of Direct Marketing. One day I hope to sit at the table with the likes of the great old hands before me. Greats like David Garfinkel, Doug D’anna, Ben Settle, David Duetch, Gary Bencievega and good Ole Uncle John Carlton. I also hope to one day write for many of the top Direct Marketing companies in the world.

Yes my friends I’m ambitious.

So what exactly did I do wrong that got my copy rejected in the first place? Well, in my search to find clients I figured since Copy is advertsing I would “hit the pavement,” and sell my services business to business in hopes of landing a client or at least a prospect.

In my search of landing my first client I was met with rejection after rejection. No one needed any copywriting services but even worse not a single one of these business have never heard of copywriting or Direct Advertising.

Heading home defeated and tired I ran into an old friend who ran a small business mounting TVs. He confessed to me that business was slow and he needed more customers. Noticing his pain I offered my services, he accepted. I went home, put on my deerstalker and went to work. I researched his target customers to find out their biggest problems, worries, etc. I also went ahead and called the local newspapers to find out the pricing to get his ads going.

You name it, I probably did it.

After a week I finished his 1 page copy and I proudly called him to let him know. Then… rejection.

“This wasn’t what I was expecting,” he said.

I was annoyed, angry and hurt. He was expecting a more “traditional” form of advertising. During our argument I realized my grave mistake.

“I should have sold my services to my target market!”

Target market meaning those in Direct Marketing!

This was my fault and I should’ve told him what I specialised in. It would have saved us headaches.

When you write copy you write for your ideal customer in mind. You write about their pain, and how you had the same problem AND that you have a solution to their problem.

When I spoke with my friend I should have been clear on what copy was and how it was going to look.

Instead I jumped the gun and took the assignment.

The lesson?

Focus on your Target Market.

How Focusing Your Marketing Efforts Can Help

So have we all returned to work after the festivities with new ideas and inspiration for attracting new business? In 2012, an Olympic year we need to be aiming high for achieving those ultimate goals. Increasing response rates and winning new customers may well be top of your agenda for 2012 so how do you go about it?

Think like an Olympic athlete and you can race past your competitors and collect gold every time. Athletes put so much training and effort in before the big race and this can be compared to direct mail campaigns because you will put a huge amount of foundation work into ensuring that you have an up to date database and as many quality contacts as possible. You follow this by choosing carefully exactly what you need to say – you may be promoting a brand new product or service so you will have all the meetings and discussions before a final draft is decided upon.

Then onto the final hurdle – you need to ensure that all your efforts are not going to be in vain and that your communication is read and not discarded before the starting pistol has fired. Some companies think that a letter or a flat pamphlet will suffice but I am of the opinion that this simply is not good enough anymore. You need to use attention-grabbing products that are not only entertaining but will definitely be opened, read and responded to.

Choose your product wisely – do you want to shock and surprise with a pop-up product or would you prefer to keep your customers entertained with fun folds? Either way you can award yourself a gold medal for keeping ahead of your competitors and ensuring that your professional and unusual approach to marketing is rewarded with higher response rates. You may be of the opinion that e-mail marketing is the way forward and whilst it does have its place I believe that it is still not as effective as direct mail that has attitude and creates an impact. How many times have you scrolled through your in-box hitting the delete button without a second thought? Your customers do exactly the same and whilst your e-shot may say something they would benefit from in a second it can be gone forever,

Direct mail items that have an element of surprise or are interactive are never ignored and are almost always shared with colleagues and co-workers too. It is easy to capture a greater audience with amusing and entertaining direct mail pieces; give them a try for your next marketing campaign and see the results for yourself. As I said earlier when compared to an Olympic athlete, it is not only about the training it is the performance on the day that counts.

How to Do Direct Mail Part 3: The Letter


You’ve got your list assembled, and you know what you’re going to offer them.

Now what?

Now you write the letter.

Don’t worry. This won’t be too bad, even if you’re not a writer – even if you hate writing.

This is going to be the start of your first sentence:

“I’m writing to you today to… “

Tell them why you’re writing to them. Do you have a great offer for them? Tell them. Don’t waste time. Come out with it. Why are you writing to them?

Now, spend a few sentences telling them why they should care. Why is your sale worth their time? Is it a once-a-year sale? A going-out-of-business sale?

Are you giving them free access to your newsletter? Why are they going to want to read it?

If you can’t come up with reasons for them to care, you should go back to the drawing board and find a new offer.

So. You’ve told them why you’re writing. You’ve told them what’s in it for them.

Now tell them what you want from them.

Do you want them to stop into your store? Give you a call? Sign up on your website? Whatever it is, tell them clearly what you want them to do:

“Don’t wait! Call me today at (xxx) xxx-xxxx)”

“Mark your calendar. Come to our store on Saturday, March X for huge savings on… “

“Visit us online at ww.widget.whatever and sign up for our newsletter today.”

Whatever you want them to do, lay out as clearly and specifically as you can the steps they should follow.

Don’t say “Call me for an appointment.”

Instead say: “Call me at (XXX) XXX-XXXX today to schedule a free consultation.”

The last thing you want is your reader trying to figure out how to do what it is you want them to do. If they’re supposed to call you, make sure you give them the number they should use, right there in the letter.

If you want them to stop by your office or store, give them the address, (and any helpful landmarks that might help them more easily locate you.)

Now thank them for their time, and end your letter.

There’s only one step left:

The P.S.

“Do I have to have a P.S.?”

Yes, your letter needs a P.S. Why?

Research has shown that many people read the P.S. of a letter first, to see if it’s worth their time. Research has also shown that some people only read the P.S. If you don’t have one, you’re not going to reach them.

So what do you put in the P.S.?

You repeat your offer.

“P.S. Find out how much money I can save you! Call me today for your free consultation! (XXX) XXX-XXXX.”

That’s pretty much it. You’ve now got all the essential parts of your letter written.

Don’t worry about it being too long or too short. Your letter should be as long as it needs to be. Do not cut pieces just to fit it on a single page!

One last thing:

Make sure to have your contact information easily visible on the letter!

Believe it or not, I’ve seen mailings that encouraged customers to come to a store, without ever giving the address! I’ve seen letters go out that say “Call me today!” and then forget to include the phone number…

What a waste.

Don’t be like that. Make it a habit to have your contact info on every communication you send to your customers.